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Berg leaving WSC; farewell open house planned Aug. 13

Friday, August 10th, 2012
Posted by Bo Saeton

Berg leaving WSC; farewell open house planned Aug. 13

WILLISTON, N.D. - Williston State College has announced that Athletic Director and former basketball coach Hunter Berg has resigned his position effective Aug. 14.

Berg is a native of Grenora who began his affiliation with WSC as a student, playing basketball under then coach Terry Olson. He went on to graduate from the University of North Dakota, returning to WSC in 2002 as head women's basketball coach, a role he held for six years until taking over as men's basketball coach.

"Personally, it is sad to see him go," Olson said. "But professionally, I thought he did a wonderful job here at WSC. He has always been well liked by everyone and he is going to be missed. We have been together - coaching and as a player - for about 15 years and this is definitely a shocker for me. But I'm happy for him. It is important and says something about him that he keeps his family first in this move to Bismarck."

Berg and his teams have been successful the past 10 years. According to the WSC website, "In his second season as head men's coach, Berg guided the Tetons to a record-setting season. Overall, the team finished 25-7, winning the Region XIII and Mon-Dak Conference Championships before coming up just one game short of qualifying for the NJCAA Division I National Tournament, a triple overtime loss to Southeastern (Iowa). The 2009-2010 Teton Men's Basketball Team set a school record for most consecutive wins with 17."

In 2010, he was named North Dakota College Male Team Coach of the Year by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

He has enjoyed his time at WSC, and to choose a "highlight" after 10 years was difficult for him. "During the 50th anniversary celebration of Teton Athletics, Coach (Terry Olson) spoke about a dream and the fact that he has lived a dream being a part of Teton Athletics. I can say that he said it best ... I, too, have lived a dream."

He said that he enjoyed having "the best seat in the house" at every Teton game for the past 10 years. "We had some unbelievable teams and unbelievable players and I got to see them front and center," he said. "Our fans and supporters are simply the greatest and they make it seem like anything is possible"

He has also enjoyed being part of the growing athletic department at WSC, with the addition of men's hockey and women's fastpitch softball; as well as the many events the department hosts which have become annual events, including the fund-raising event Casino Night each spring and the wing cook-off in the fall, the Teton Athletic Hall of Fame, etc.

While he has enjoyed working with the athletes through the years, he readily admits that it takes more than one person to create a successful athletic program like the one at WSC.

"Good coaches are the key to successful athletics and I couldn't say enough good things about our coaching staff right now. They are all very committed and hard-working and fun to be working with," he said.

While it was difficult, Berg was able to say that Olson will figure into his fondest memories of WSC.

"If I had to pick three highlights that I think stick out to me, they would all signify the history and the pride of being a Teton.  The first highlight is working underneath Coach (Olson) and alongside Coach for 10 years, which was an unbelievable experience. Most people don't realize how much he cares for the college and how much he has built for our department and the college. I wouldn't be where I am today without him and I'll miss working alongside him. Second, is working with Phil Rabon to carry on the enthusiasm of the school and the Tetons.  The other highlight that I think really changed Teton Athletics was our addition of Rita Ann (Deichert) to our department. We couldn't do what we do and we couldn't have the success that we have without her. She was without a doubt the biggest recruit I ever landed!"

Berg said that it won't be an easy move and leaving the people at WSC will be difficult. "The students, athletes, the coaches, the passionate fans, I'll miss them very very much," he said. "I'm still amazed that in the busiest city in the United States, anytime I went to visit with our supporters, they'd always take the time to talk about the Tetons. There are many people behind the scenes of Teton Athletics - the greatest concessions crew in the world, the dedicated ticket booth staff, the scorer's table workers, all have become good friends and people I could always count on to lend a hand and I'll miss them all but am very thankful for their contributions. Leaving Williston, I'm also leaving the coaching world and my parents have always been my biggest fans and I'll miss seeing them at our games."

Berg will be heading to United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck to serve as athletic director for the four sports - men's and women's basketball, cross country/track and golf. "It will be fun to work with them and to try make their athletics stronger," he said.

He will replace Daryl Bearstail who has taken a high school athletic director's position.

Berg's wife, Julie, has taken a position as counselor at Bismarck High School. "I'm very proud of her. This is a real feather in her hat and quite an accomplishment."

While he will no longer be affiliated professionally with the Tetons, there will always be a place in his heart for the school. "No words could describe my feelings for the Tetons," he said. "I am forever grateful for the opportunities I was given as a player, a coach, and an A.D. My heart will always be here."

A farewell will be held for Berg at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at the Teton Grill, on the campus of WSC. The public is invited to attend.